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Artist of the Month - September 2014

Written by Bill Zimmerman, President Arts Council Menifee

Have you ever tried watercolor painting? If you have, you know why so many artists consider it to by “the most difficult medium.” Fortunately, here in Menifee, there is a watercolor instructor who makes it easy.

Each month, Arts Council Menifee selects an “Artist of the Month,” and the recipient for September is Sun City resident Kathleen Pickett.

The non-profit art organization appreciates all of its patron members, but Pickett is held in the highest regard, not only for her artistic talents and teaching role, but also for her loveable personality.

All of her life, Kathleen Pickett has enjoyed portraying the bold beautiful colors of nature through visual art. She has learned to welcome that magical mystery of surprise when water, pigment and paper are married by her brush.

Picket describes the process as an emotional journey. “Watercolor is a mysterious medium that takes you away from all the realities of everyday life. You enter into a fantasy world not knowing what will happen next when you put water and paint together on a piece of white paper,” said Pickett.

“The explosion of colors onto the wet paper gives way to an excitement of emotions watching the creation of various mixes of colors and the unusual forms that appear right before your eyes. This is the magic part of learning those first basic techniques in this mysterious medium,” she described.

In the 1970’s while attending formal classes in watercolor, Picket excelled to the point that she was asked to take over the class. There began her art career.

Picket has taught watercolor classes and workshops in Florida, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and California since 1978. She had the privilege of showing her work in many exhibitions, winning numerous awards. One of her notable honors was being juried into the prestigious North Carolina Watercolor Society. She also won first place in the popular Fallbrook Art Association show. Although these accomplishments are the kind that would qualify an artist as a master, Pickett sees herself as a continuing student seeking to conjure that innate creativity that will inspire her next piece.

Pickett has a heritage of Osage Indian, a tribe from Oklahoma, of which her mother was a member. Today some of Pickett’s favorite subjects to paint are Native Americans, rustic barns, lighthouses and trees. She likes to paint her subjects using a creative background of textures on French watercolor paper, the more bold the color the better.

In 1996, she chose Sun City as her place to retire while continuing to nurture her art career. She is a founding member of Arts Council Menifee where she serves as Board Trustee and Co-Chair of the Visual Arts Division. She also serves as President of the Sun City Art Guild where members benefit from her watercolor instruction classes. Retirees at the Sun Meadows senior community also enjoy the classes she teaches there. Her students are learning to work from light to dark, first by splashing on abstract transparent colors to frame the subject with sky and clouds, or to illustrate foliage. These are followed by definitive darks such as tree branches and other solid images. All of this happens on paper, no canvas in this class. While her classes do introduce specialized techniques such as the use of salts, saran wrap, foil and spray bottles, Pickett’s paramount value is found in her message.

While her students are busy practicing control of the medium before them, Pickett offers encouraging direction such as “let the paper and paint do the work for you” and “don’t try to paint like other artists, always paint like you, have fun, and remember, only God is perfect.”

When speaking with Kathleen, we begin to sense her love and passion for artistic beauty and her enjoyment working with watercolors. “Your reward is excepting the results of your handiwork of which can be good or not so good. It has been a learning experience, and if you find just one small inch of your painting that you like, then you’ve been successful” said Pickett.

Later this year in November, Pickett will be showing her Native American themed pieces at the Sun City Library.

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